Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Keen Leader Should Live Up to His Name

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Keen Leader Should Live Up to His Name

Article excerpt

Byline: By Doug Moscrop

Winner of four of his nine completed starts over fences, Keen Leader can make the most of his 10lb concession from last year's winner Grey Abbey in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby today.

Jonjo O'Neill's nine-year-old was last successful in the Tommy Whittle Chase at Haydock in December, 2003, and will have had any cobwebs blown away by a pipe-opener over hurdles at Chepstow a week ago.

A strong-running type, who is inclined to make the odd mistake, Keen Leader was restricted to only two outings last season when his stable was under a cloud.

However, he ran creditably to be placed in valuable handicaps at Haydock and Cheltenham, beaten just over a length by Kelami on the latter occasion, and he will have his ideal conditions.

Grey Abbey galloped his rivals into submission in this corresponding event last year and proceeded to win at Cheltenham and Aintree. He has more on his plate, however, having to concede weight to all but Chives, and it will be a career-best if he succeeds.

Kingscliff has suffered from muscular problems and has a bit to prove. Ollie Magern is game and already battle-hardened, while Take The Stand hasn't stopped improving and chased home Kicking King in the Gold Cup.

Colourful Life and Joes Edge could be biting off more than they can chew in this exalted company.

Howard Johnson, who has endured a very quiet spell on the Flat, reckons his jumping season will start in earnest at this meeting and, much as I respect the chance of Grey Abbey, I feel he has better chances in other races.

Inglis Drever, who lowered the colours of champion stayer Baracouda in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, returns to action in the John Smith's Hurdle. He is a class act and is the one they all have to aim at in the stayers' division. His trainer has been concerned about getting him ready in time but I don't think he would run him if he didn't believe he would do himself justice. …

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